Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease

Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease

Was diabetes evolution's response to the last Ice Age?

Did a deadly genetic disease help our ancestors survive the bubonic plagues of Europe?

Can your genes be turned on -- or off?Dr. Sharon Moalem turns our current understanding of illness on its head and challenges us to fundamentally change the way we think about our bodies, our health, and our relationship to just about every other living thing on earth, from plants and animals to insects and bacteria.Through a fresh and engaging examination of our evolutionary history, Dr. Moalem reveals how many of the conditions that are diseases today actually gave our ancestors a leg up in the survival sweepstakes.

When the option is a long life with a disease or a short one without it, evolution opts for disease almost every time.Everything from the climate our ancestors lived in to the crops they planted and ate to their beverage of choice can be seen in our genetic inheritance.

Reviews of the Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease

The type 1 diabetes chapter that posits that it aids in survival in a cold climate is laughably implausible. Moalem states that "some scientists" believe that type 1 diabetes is autoimmune.

It reads, Farmers who use synthetic pesticides, while creating a whole host of other problems, are essentially protecting plants from attack. Organic farmers dont use synthetic pesticides. So that means organic celery farmers are leaving their growing stalks vulnerable to attack by insects and fungi and when those stalks are inevitably munched on, they respond by producing massive amounts of psoralen. Your subtext implies that organic farmers, because they choose not to use synthetic pesticides, fungicides, etc, are in some way failing to protect their plants, and in turn the consumers of their foods. My apologies if my own failure to read your cited sources has provoked unmerited criticism, but your careless choice of words, and/or your failure to provide discussion of psoralen levels in organic and conventional produce lead me to find your celery comment reactionary, at best. You equate the use of highly toxic, environmentally and politically unsustainable synthetic pesticides with pest control. To quote, Organic farmers dont use synthetic pesticides. So that means organic celery farmers are leaving their growing stalks vulnerable to attack by insects and fungi.(Moalem 87,my italics) The logical fallacy here is one produced by not taking into account all of the variables present.

It sounded plausible, but my own further reading on his claim shows that there is very little evidence to support it (in fact, it was really just speculation).

It amazes me that human beings can live through such huge changes It talked about how specific common diseases and conditions (like diabetes and high cholesterol) actually may have been naturally selected because they provided an adaptive advantage in a particular environment.

I HATED this book. Even with a co-author this book was fragmented, disorganized, and packed with clunky metaphors. It seemed like the point of the book was to establish himself as a talking head rather than to inform the reader.

Yes, the book has sentences like, "Compromises, compromises." Probably, some readers will find the tone condescending. Furthermore, almost all readers will find something new, although it may be sketchy.

For example, because I know my genetics (I told you I have an inner geek), I know that I am a carrier for a disease that, over time, causes too much iron to accumulate in major body organs. (So if the plague makes a reappearance, I'm good!) If you found that last tidbit interesting, then you will like this book.

Marketing looked like a complete ripoff of Freakonomics.

This is definitely more of a book to make you ooh and ahh, which is to say that its not very scientific. A+B = C, with 4% confidence, but, well, we're already this far!, C must be true as well!

The author has a smart-alecky style of writing at times that makes me think he's writing for a 12 year old audience.

Dr. Moalem and his work have been featured on CNN, in the New York Times, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Today Show, Bloomberg Night Talk and in magazines such as New Scientist, Elle, and Martha Stewart's Body + Soul, O-The Oprah Magazine, and Redbook.

  • English

  • Science

  • Rating: 4.14
  • Pages: 267
  • Publish Date: February 6th 2007 by William Morrow
  • Isbn10: 0060889659
  • Isbn13: 9780060889654